INDIA – The Indian government has approved a proposal making jute packaging mandatory for all food grains, a move that aims to enhance quality and productivity of both the grains and jute bags, reports Times of India.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved that 100 % of the food grains and 20% of the sugar shall be mandatorily packed in diversified jute bags.

The move retains the government’s earlier decision that 20% of the sugar shall be mandatorily packed in diversified jute bags and also supports nearly 370,000 workers and several lakh farm families who depend on the jute sector for livelihood.

Earlier, it was compulsory to pack 90% of the food grains and 20% of the sugar in jute bags.

“Initially, 10% of the indents of jute bags for packing food grains would be placed through reverse auction on the GeM (Government e-Marketplace) portal.

This will gradually usher in a regime of price discovery,” said an official statement.

Worker and farmer support

The decision is supposed to benefit farmers and workers located in the Eastern and North Eastern regions of the country particularly in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura.

Official statement said that government interventions have resulted in enhancing the quality and productivity of raw jute and increasing income of jute farmers by US$141.27 per hectare.

In this connection, to support jute farmers, Jute Corporation of India (JCI) has been given a grant of US$14.12 million for two years to enable JCI to conduct MSP operations and ensure price stabilization in the jute sector.

Also with a view to boost demand in the jute sector, the Centre has imposed definitive anti-dumping duty on import of jute goods from Bangladesh and Nepal.

The duty which took effect 5 January 2017 provided scope for additional demand of 200,000 metric tonnes of jute goods in the domestic market for the Indian jute industry.

This has resulted 13 Twine mills in Andhra Pradesh to resume operation, benefitting 20,000 workers.

Government extended compulsory jute packaging for food grains and sugar in January this year saying the move will help sustain the core demand for the jute sector and support the livelihood of workers and farmer’s dependent on the sector.